Events and Festivals / Western Cape

The Franschhoek Literary Fair – a celebration of books and writers

Updated Wednesday, 1 February 2017

I have recently joined a book club and while it has confirmed my suspicions that book clubs are there for a good gossip, tasty wine and snacks, there is a considerable amount of time set out to discuss books. Something that in my opinion does not happen enough.

While we have a large selection of personalities and book tastes in our group we do all share one common passion. The love of the written word. I am relatively new to the group and have joined a very well read group of individuals and I often find myself slightly intimidated by the sheer volume of books that have been devoured by the group. Not to worry I have set myself a challenge and that is to complete the 2 books I take out each month, which I might add I am finding more difficult that first imagined …

Towards the end of last year at one of our meetings a term was being thrown around the group and there was much chatter and excitement over the FLF. All I was thinking was “the FLF, crumbs what on earth have I gotten myself into”.

Not wanting to be sucked into some cult I timidly asked what on earth everyone was going on about … Much to my delight the reply was not some sort of weird cult, but the Franschhoek Literary Festival which takes place annually in the beautiful Cape Winelands town of Franschhoek. I must say the organisers couldn’t have picked a better location – wine and books, who wouldn’t want to be there!

This week I met again with the group and the excitement had reached breaking point. The announcement of who would be taking part this year has been unveiled and like kids at Christmas we went through selecting who would like to see what.

This year the Franschhoek Literary Festival takes place from Friday 14 to Sunday 16 May and for those of you who like me weren’t so sure on the details, this is a 3 day book feast. Readers, writers, booksellers and publishers all join together for discussions, presentations, concerts and more.

There is something for everyone at this festival and the line-up includes poetry, literary breakfasts, interviews and discussions with some leading local and international authors, restauranteurs and columnists. The visiting authors are generally selected for their exceptional writing, approachability and passion for promoting reading.

The Franschhoek Literary Festival begins at 11h30 on Friday 14 May in the Church Hall with a restaurateur (Mark Dendy-Young of La Petite Ferme) and food writers Marlene van der Westhuizen and Myrna Robins. Following this is ‘My Life on Paper’ where Aher Aprop Bol, Chris van Wyk and Antjie Krog talk about writing their own stories and how doing so changed their lives.

And so the day goes on with a myriad of authors imparting their knowledge and experience to an expectant audience. With discussion on what post 2010 in South Africa will be like to writing a weekly column to a performance of poetry, song and dance you will need to choose carefully. It is important to note that many of these talks overlap and you will need to choose wisely.

Saturday 15 May brings an exciting line-up from 10h00, more than enough time to grab a delicious breakfast at one of Franschhoek sumptuous eateries.  Is Sport the New Politics? I’m not sure why not listen to Ndumiso Ngocobo, Jeremy Borain, John Carlin and Tim Noakes battle it out, I sure would not like to be the referee of this match, Chris Thurman certainly has his job cut out for him. Interested in finding out what it’s like running an small bookshop in South Africa?

Come and listen to the booksellers from Boekehuis, The Book Lounge and Kalk Bay Books discuss the highs and lows of doing just this. Crime enthusiasts will enjoy crime master Deon Meyer discussion with Michiel Heyns about his life and work.

These three days are jam packed with events and discussions to feed your mind.

Make sure you book your accommodation in Franschhoek and tickets for the events you wish to attend early in advance. You do not want to miss out on this weekend!

Useful Franschhoek Links